Suicide still hurts

dadToday is an anniversary I wish I didn’t have to remember.  It has been 3 years since I walked up to my dads door, waited for him to answer, but he never did.  3 years since my sweet husband bravely walked inside to find him.  3 years since he walked outside to tell me the heartbreaking news.  “He’s gone.  He took his life.”

It is still crushing to even think about it all.  To remember the pain of the day and wonder what happened.  Suicide leaves questions that will never be answered.  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I am someone who always looks for answers.  I want to understand everything.  But this one, no matter how much information I seek, I will never fully understand it.

Suicide leaves behind so much.  It leaves pain and what if’s for all of those left here.  It leaves grief and tears.  Sometimes it leaves anger, hurt, or frustration.  3 years later, and although I have done so much healing, there is still healing to be done.  I don’t get anxiety when I drive past the community where he lived any more.  I don’t cry about my dads death every day.  But there are days that the grief just comes out of no where.  Days where I am just sad he isn’t here.

This topic is still something that not everyone is comfortable talking about, but it is one we need to talk about.  I have learned of 2 suicides this week and even though I din’t know either person, I have mourned over them.  My heart is broken for them.  For the pain they were in.  For the hurt they felt.  For the fight they fought.  My heart hurst for the their friends and family as they wrestle with all of the emotions that come with suicide.  My prayers for them are pleas with God to hold them together as they process.

Friends, our country needs support, encouragement and love for those who are hurting.  Depression is real.  Emotional pain is real.  Lets search our hearts and find compassion to see others.  To really see them.  We are all human and we all struggle!  If your struggles don’t look like someone else’s, thank God, then ask Him to help guide you as you reach out to those in your life who you know are hurting.

Be a friend.  Ask questions.  Offer your shoulder to cry on.  Don’t judge.  Just love.

And if you need a friend, let me know.  If you are looking for community to love you through your pain, Celebrate Recovery is the most incredible place to find people who truly love and accept folks just as they are!  I would love to help connect you!

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Call them if you need them.

Other posts on this topic:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

When God Fulfills His Promises

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You, me, & coffee- just invite her

IMG_5226A busy mom with several children is sitting at home struggling.  She is lonely and would love more than anything to connect to others who share common interest and who are in the same season of life.  Reality is, she would love to connect with anyone.  She feels a little forgotten.  She starts evaluating herself and looking for reasons why it seems like no one reaches out to her.  She finds herself unsure why, but realizes she is feeling self conscious wishing she could figure it out.

In a house across town, another busy mom has been invited to a luncheon but has no one to go with.  She wants more than anything to put on makeup, fix her hair, wear that new dress, and have a kid free lunch with friends.  She scans the contacts in her phone.  She concludes that most everyone she knows is far too busy to go.  This friend probably can’t get a babysitter.  This one seems to have so many friends and always busy, I doubt she has time for me.  One by one she answers for them, without asking.  Before she knows it, her excitement about the luncheon has turned into sadness and she decides she won’t go because she doesn’t want to go alone.

Have you ever been either women?  In this season of Motherhood I can find myself being both women at times.  I have been the lonely mom, wishing someone would invite, call, or text me.  I have longed for meaningful relationships and wondered why I don’t have them.  I have also been the woman who didn’t even ask because I  thought they were too busy or I feared feeling rejected if they said no.

Through talking to other women, trying to figure out a solution to loneliness in Motherhood, I have heard over and over again that a lot of moms don’t invite out of fear OR they don’t invite because they assume someone is busy.  I have also heard moms saying they just feel overwhelmed by all that they have going on and truly feel too busy to reach out.

If you are the overwhelmed mom, but long for some girl pal time, here is a question for you- What would it look like to determine a set amount of time for this?  Do you feel that even with your full plate, carving out some time to hang with other moms might actually help you be less overwhelmed?  I know that taking time out of my normal crazy to drink coffee and chat with other moms it helps me feel human again!

If you are like me and often assume other moms are too busy OR fear rejection, lets ask anyway!  You never know when another mom may need the invite, just as bad as you want them to say yes!  And lets remember that a no isn’t personal.

Just invite.  Reach out.  Make new friends.  Love on old ones.  Have coffee, lunch, dinner.  Go play at the park.  Find ways to connect and don’t let things stop you.  Relationships are far too important to allow fear or busyness get in the way!

I do not have a full proof solution for the lonely mom, but I do know if we don’t ever take a chance and just invite, we will miss out on so many opportunities!

Happy Monday Friends!  I hope it is fabulous!

 

Excuse this work in progress

IMG_4780 copyIt started with a text from a friend letting me know she would be in town and wanted to grab lunch.  I glanced over at my 3 year old who is still just a week post op- tonsillectomy.  He is a little unpredictable generally, but recovery has left me not knowing moment to moment his mood.  It has been over a week since I did anything that resembled fun and lunch with adults sounded wonderful but I knew I couldn’t load up 5 kids and go.

I looked around at all the unfinished things at my house.  I have no kitchen faucet, the island is without a counter top, trim isn’t finished, light fixtures need to be installed, closets aren’t done…. The list is long.  But I really wanted this opportunity to visit.  I responded  “I can’t got out for lunch but you are welcome to come here!”  She responded with excitement to see the new place but I felt the need to disclose, “just so you know, it is a work in progress, excuse the mess and unfinished state!”

I couldn’t help but feel like that could be my life hashtag #excusethishotmessimaworkinprogress

Jesus is still working on me y’all!  I mean it!  Everyday I feel like I discover a ways I need to do better.  I can want to hide my face and run away at some of the mistakes I make.  I get embarrassed and insecure knowing I have so much to work on.  I can easily let my work in progress state keep me from things, knowing I am flawed and imperfect.

Today I made lunch for friends in my unfinished, work in progress, no where close to perfect house.  We laughed, dreamed, and enjoyed our few hours together. I could have missed out on this chance if I let the fact that we are still working on it bother me.

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The truth is, we are all a work in progress.  There isn’t one of us that will ever arrive at perfection and be able to say “I do not need to work on me any more!”  But how often do we let the work in progress state we are in keep us from things?  From my own experiences, I have found that perfection isn’t always inviting.  Sometimes it is down right intimidating.  When we allow ourselves to embrace the work in progress, knowing it won’t always be this way, we can lovingly invite others into our story, on our journey, and share our life!

Lets be brave enough to show our real, imperfect, work-in-progress lives to each other, so when Jesus makes new of what is a mess, others get to see that transformation too!  Can we all love and extend grace to one another so can be a community of brave women, sharing our journey?  Join me friends!

When God fulfills His promises

IMG_4298 copyOn October 4, 2014,  I got my kids up and ready for a soccer.  My oldest son had a game and we were headed out early to grab my dad and get to the field.  He knew we were coming, he had the schedule, and we came every week.  I had been trying to call him for 24 hours with no luck getting him and my imagination had me nervous.  It wasn’t like my dad to not answer, although it wasn’t even ringing- just going to voicemail.  My imagination said worst case….. My sound mind said his phone stopped working.  The battery had been refusing to charge off and on for months so surely that is the case.

We arrive to his apartment.  I hop out of the car to go get him. My heart is racing.  I actually feel sick as I walk to the door.  I knock.  I wait.  I try the handle and the door is unlocked.  I yell “dad……dad”  I quickly pull the door to and run to the car.  “The door is unlocked but he isn’t answering.  I can’t go in.  I just can’t.”  Joel unbuckles and assures me it is going to be ok.  I follow him as closely as I can without stepping on his heels.  I stop just outside the door and wait.  Moments seemed like years.  I won’t ever forget the look on my sweet husbands face when he had to say the words I feared.  “He’s gone, he died”

The whirlwind of emotion will never leave me, I don’t think.  I can recount the moments after he said that and remember the feeling in my heart that hurt so badly.  I remember calling to tell my sister…. my brother…. my mom.  I remember calling my friend and asking her to come get my kids.  Every single detail feels so fresh.

When I finally got home, I drug myself up the stairs and found myself on my knees in the closet, crying.  I cried out to God.  “Lord please let me wake up!  Please do not let this be part of my story.  I just don’t want suicide to be part of my story”  Broken, hurting, confused, desperate for answers, I felt peace rush over my body.  A peace that can only be explained to be the Holy Spirit.  I had to look up because I felt it so deeply that I had to make sure my surroundings were the same.  In that instant I felt God saying to me “It is ok.  You will be better equipped for what I have for you on the other side of this.  Your pain will not be wasted.  I will use this.”  I had no idea how, but I stood up confident and at peace.  Still broken, hurting, confused, and desperate for answers, but confident that the peace I felt would get me through the coming weeks, months, and years.

Today, it has been 2.5 years since my dad died.  Over the past 2.5 years I haven’t really wondered how or when God was going to use me and honestly I was ok with not knowing.  But a few weeks ago, I got an unexpected message from someone I didn’t really know.  She wanted to talk to me about the blog I wrote on suicide.  I was nervous to talk about it, mostly because I was caught off guard by it- it had been over a year since I posted the blog.   I wrote the blog out of obedience- it wasn’t fun.  Suicide is a tough subject to bring up because it makes people uncomfortable so it took God prompting me for months before I finally did it.

The weeks leading up to the phone call had been hard for me.  I had been in a place of loneliness and I had been wrestling with God- asking Him where He was and begging Him to show up for me.  I remember confessing at life group on that Sunday, that I longed for the relationship I had with God during the biggest trials of my life, He felt so present.  I wouldn’t want to be back in the trial, but wish the richness of the Holy Spirit was present now.

The conversation started by getting the awkward, I know we don’t really know each other…. out of the way.  It quickly followed by explaining she read my blog post on suicide and decided to share it.  At the time she wasn’t sure why, but just felt the need to share it.  Recently a friend of hers urgently wanted to meet her.  During their time together, her friend explained the darkness she found herself in and had decided to take her life.  But she saw the blog on Facebook and decided to read it.  After reading it, her heart changed and instead of taking her life, she went to rehab to get the help she so desperately needed.

I am listening on the other end, sobbing.  I keep hearing God’s promises in my head. I remember days before crying out “where are you?”  I remember doubting what he asked me to do years ago when I was seeking His will so intensely “share your life, open and honestly, encourage others”.  But Lord, what do I have to give?  And as I listened to my new friend talk, I heard Him saying “your story”.

Friends, God is good.  He took my brokenness, my words of pain, and he used them to help someone see a different perspective.  That is good enough, but he didn’t stop there.  He knew I needed reassurance.  He knew I needed to see His work, so he was good enough to let me see it.  His work happened, He used my pain, even if I didn’t know it, but He let me in on it.  He is good like that.

Sometimes I wonder if my story is worth telling.  I wonder if my life is worth sharing.  The truth is, everyone’s is.  Yours doesn’t look like mine.  And not everyone will share the way I do, but everyones story is worth telling.  Do not underestimate the power of your story.

I have learned that God will fulfill His promises.  He will.  But we have to be willing to let Him.  Let Him use you today- whatever that looks like for you.  For me, it means sharing and giving.  It means being vulnerable enough to let you all see the not so great parts of my life.  It means giving my life to Jesus and praying every day He uses it!

As I proofread my words I realized how much pain there is in reliving the day my dad died.  I tried to figure out a way to show God’s goodness in this story without sharing all the pain.  The truth is, I can’t.  If I take out the pain, there isn’t really a story.  Today is Good Friday.  The pain surrounding this day is unimaginable and it hurts me when I think of all the pain Jesus endured, but without Friday, there is no Sunday.  Without the pain, there is no resurrection.  Friends, Jesus paid the ultimate price so he could share Heaven with us.  Sometimes we have to share our pain with others, in order to let them see how truly good God is.  God didn’t cause my pain, but He was with me through it all and He is using the pain for good!

Love, even when its hard

img_9572My parents divorced when I was little.  My dad was not a constant in my childhood.  The older I got, the more I saw him.  I pushed for him to be in my life, especially in my early teen years.  As a kid I just saw my dad as this cool, music loving, hippy.  I didn’t understand the complicated things.  I just knew I wanted to be around him more.

When I was about 14 my dad decided to quit his job.  He walked out one night after getting upset with his boss.  He had no plan and his free spirit seemed to be leading him.  He decided he was done working for the man and I remember him vowing to never work for someone else again.  He lived off his savings and 401K that he withdrew.  Eventually that ran out.  He had no money for rent so he became homeless.  He had no money to pay for his truck, so they took it back.  I remember wanting nothing more than to help him.  I begged my mother to let him stay with us and she did- for months.

After he over stayed his welcome he started what he would keep up for the next 15 years.  He would live from place to place until he over stayed his welcome.  I was his advocate for a long time.  I would make sure he was taken care of.  I took him food and gave him some money over the years. He lived with us more times than I can count.  I wasn’t alone in this, as there were several of us who were constantly taking turns.

At some point, I started getting a little resentful.  I was always doing for him.  Each time he would come to stay with us, it came with a promise.  This promise was that it was temporary and that he would get a job and save to be on his own.  Each time his stay would end with us telling him we could no longer keep it up unless he did as he promised and each time he would leave without even looking for a job.  He bounced back and forth between several places over his last 15 years.

I don’t need to go into all the details of all the things that happened, but at some point, my heart changed from a caring concerned daughter to an irritated, inconvenienced daughter.  At some point I quit seeing my dad through loving eyes and just saw my dad as a constant irritation.  If I listed all the things, I could probably get you to say that I was justified in my feelings but I don’t want to be.

I loved my dad.  I miss my dad.  But when he was here, there were a lot of things that were a constant source of hurt for me.  I needed a dad my entire life and my dad couldn’t be what I needed.  I had slowly started to accept that I needed to view our relationship differently and morn the fact that my dad wasn’t ever going to be able to be that dad I had always wanted.  It was still hard but getting better.

But now, my dad is gone.  Our relationship will never have a chance to mend or be healthy.  Now I wish I could be inconvenienced by going to pick him up for a birthday party or holiday get together.  Each time I eat at a restaurant that he loved, I only wish I could buy him dinner, where before I would have been frustrated I had to buy his dinner because he never had money.  Now when I try a new dark chocolate, which was his favorite, I wish I could offer him some.  The list goes on and on.

The reason I am writing all of this down is to remind us all that we need to love others even when it is inconvenient.  Love others when it is difficult to love.  Extend grace and understanding even when people are frustrating.  I know we all have relationships that are hard.  We all have those people in our lives that we don’t understand and that seem impossible.  I am sure that right now you are thinking of someone who fits this description.

Here is what I would do differently if my dad was still here and I had the chance to do things over.  I would do my best to understand him.  I would spend more time trying to see his heart. I would ask hard questions to find out what has happened to land him where he is.  I would focus on him as a person rather than his actions.  I would make sure that he always felt loved and welcomed where he was.  I would make sure I stood up for him.  But I would also hold him accountable.  I would remind him of the steps he needed to take to better himself and I would encourage him along the way.  I wouldn’t do it all for him, but rather come along side him and cheer him on, lending him a hand when and how I could.  I would have set healthy boundaries sooner to ensure our relationship was healthy, even if he wasn’t.  None of these things are easy to do and hindsight is 20/20 and it is easy to see things different now, but I want to try to learn from this and apply it where I can now.

You see, Jesus loves us all.  He loves us when we are difficult.  He loves us when we are broken.  He loves us when we are at the bottom.  He loves us when we don’t deserve it.  He loves us when it is inconvenient, messy, ugly.  He loves us.  Love God and Love people.

I see my dad in every person I pass holding a sign on the side of the road asking for something- food, money, shelter.  When I stop and offer what I have to give, I want so badly to know them.  To know their story and to know what has landed them where they are.  I see my dad when I see someone hurting and in need.  I see my dad when I encounter a difficult person.  I just want to understand what has caused pain in their life.  I have learned so much after my dads death.  I see people different.  (I am a work in progress and not perfect!) I see people as more than their sin, their actions, their words.  I am working on loving deeper, extending more grace, and truly seeing people.

Today I want to urge you to love others even when it is inconvenient, messy, or difficult because that is what Jesus would do and you never know when that might be their last chance to be loved like Jesus loves.

Happy Camper Christmas

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This year just hasn’t felt like Christmas.  We didn’t have a tree up or any decorations.  Time has flown by and it doesn’t even seem like it should be 5 days until Christmas.  A few weeks ago we were discussing a tree.  Every year we go and get a live tree and love that tradition.  But this year, we live in a camper.  Our tree decorations are all in storage and not accessible at all.  I had pretty much just decided that we were not going to be able to have a tree.  We are so busy, things are crazy with building, and time was running out.

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Then one night I asked Joel if he thought there was any trees on our property that might work as a Christmas tree.  I told him I didn’t care if it was perfect, that really it could be a Charlie Brown type of tree.  We discussed how much fun it would be if we made popcorn garland and dried oranges to hang on the tree.

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So that is what we did!  We decided to make the best of what we had and guess what?   It turned out to be amazing!  So much fun and so many memories.  The kids all talked about how we should make this a new tradition.  I bought one ornament and we all agreed that we will put it on the tree each year to remind us of the time we spent Christmas in the camper!

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As we worked, Joel started crafting ornaments out of scrap wire from our house.  He even created a copper star for the tree topper!

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I love that even though this camper life isn’t ideal, some how we all encourage each other through it and find ways to be thankful.  Each of us have bad days where we are tired of being in the camper, but it never fails that someone else reminds whoever is down, just how much we have to be thankful for!

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Jesus is truly the reason for the season and without a tree or decorations that doesn’t change, but the memories made decorating this sweet little tree are irreplaceable! Camper Christmas has had many obstacles to figure out (like where do I keep all the presents until Christmas) but I sure am happy to be here with all of my family and our Charlie Brown tree!  And most of all this Christmas I am thankful for a savior who was sent to us as a baby on Christmas day!  Thank you Jesus!

Home Sweet Home: part 2

I am a little sad that I haven’t blogged more of our adventure.  Camper living while Joel literally builds our house is an adventure to say the least.  I am hoping to update on camper life soon, but this will be a long post updating construction over the last 2 months.   Slowly but surely, we have chipped away and gotten this far!

When I last wrote about the house, we had just finished framing.  Since then, a lot has happened but a lot of it wasn’t super noticeable so I didn’t even want to blog about it.

The windows went in and then then roof going up was the next thing.  This took several weeks to complete because it is really hard to roof alone.  Joel had to wait for help and when he didn’t have help, you can see he improvised.  It was nerve wracking at times watching him up there! img_4182

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Thankfully his dad, brother, Kamden, and our nephew all helped out several days.  We chose a galvenized metal roof which I am excited about!  I love the way it looks and can’t wait to see it with our siding and rock.

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We wanted a very open floor plan and our kitchen, living, and dinning are all one big room.  I was probably most excited about this part of our plans.  But, when it came time to design the kitchen layout, I found it very hard to envision what the big open room was going to be like.  I spent many mornings with my coffee, floor plans, Pinterest, and a tape measurer trying to make decisions.

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I finally was able to communicate to Joel and my father-in-law (who is building the cabinets) what I was wanting!  Joel was able to roughly draw up what I wanted and I showed lots of pictures and I am confident that I will love the end result!  I am so excited to see them finished!

Over the next 2 months, lots of things happened.  Electrical was ran, as well as plumbing.  Joel did this mostly on his own with help and guidance from a few experts. Joel set bathtubs, installed outlet and switch boxes, and spent lots of time in the attic and under the house.   He also has run all the duct work for the heat and air and the units in place.

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Any time I got a chance I was in the house writing scripture on the walls.  I knew I wanted to do this and had lists of scripture for every room.  I enjoyed praying the scriptures in each room and dreaming about how they would be lived out within those walls.

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In between each step we clean up.  Kamden & Jade have been a huge help and we are so thankful they willingly help!  Vera Jane spent lots of time supervising!

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Our fireplace was installed and the exterior doors went in as well.

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Insulation was up next and we did pay someone to do that.  We decided to go with spray insulation.  We have been impressed that the inside temperature of the house is pretty nice, even without any heat and air!  It was so messy during the process but they came back through and cleaned all of their mess up!  img_7274

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After insulation we were ready for sheetrock!  I was so excited for this step and to finally see what the walls would look like.  We decided to pay someone to hang the sheetrock because they can get it done so much faster then we could.  They got here at 8am and were gone by 2:15!  I was impressed!

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So here we are, sheetrock up!  Finishing should start next week and then we will move on to paint and floors!

Joel fell through the ceiling a few nights ago.  Luckily he caught himself and didn’t hit the ground, but there is a little patch job that will need to happen!  I am thankful that he was ok and just a little sore!

We have all had to learn a little patience through this project.  Each step has come with delays and unexpected things.  We haven’t met the deadlines we put in place and I have especially had to learn to just go with it.  I am not good at it by any means and I have spent more days disappointed then I would like to admit, but when this is over I know I will look back and be glad we chose to do things this way- even if it wasn’t the easiest way!